Free app helps college students avoid debt - CBS46 News

Free app helps college students avoid debt

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She may be only 16, but Alexis Lane already has her sights set on college and her dream job.

"I aspire to be an OBGYN and that's mainly because I just love people," she said.

Lane is also planning how she'll pay for school with help from Junior Achievement's Build Your Future app.

"It calculates my monthly expenses for me," Lane said.

With the average student loan debt totaling $26,000, Junior Achievement and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP designed the app to help students choose the right school and career path, and come up with a financial game plan.

That's especially important for Lane's parents. Their son, Troy, is a freshman at Georgia Gwinnett College.

"I think it's going to be overwhelming because we'll have two in school at the same time. No matter how you plan for it, you still don't know exactly what that cost is going to be," said Vanessa Lane, Alexis and Troy's mother.

That's where the app comes in.

"It really starts bringing out the building blocks for how a student can take something that might seem like a huge sum of money to pay for college and start breaking it down in a way that's very manageable," said JA of Georgia President Jack Harris.

The first step is exploring careers that'll give you the most bang for your buck. There's a drop-down menu on the app, which allows you to choose from more than 100 careers.

"There's really so many high growth areas that are right here in our own state, right in our own backyard," Harris said.

Once you choose a career, the app will show you what type of education is required, the median salary and the projected growth.

The next step is to choose what type of college you want to attend, whether it be in-state, out-of-state, public or private.

"And then we'll go through a series of questions for students asking about the way that they would pay for college," Harris explained.

You can factor in money from your parents, wages, scholarships and student loans.

The app will then calculate your ROI - or return on investment - on a scale of one to five and show you what percentage of your monthly income will go to pay back student loans.

According to Junior Achievement, this discussion should start as early as middle school so kids are better prepared to make tough financial decisions when the time comes.

For Lane, it's not a matter of how, but how soon she'll achieve her goals.

"I knew it'd be expensive, but I'd do whatever it takes to become a doctor," she said.

The app is free on your phone or tablet and available for both Android and iOS operating systems.

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